Sunday, 28 February 2010

It's been so long... and so much has happened...

Hi Everyone, 

well relaxing in Mombasa seems like a lifetime ago, I am still holding on to the memories of the sandy beach and lovely blue seas.

Kimberley is now back home in the cold but enjoying the final week of her holiday quota with friends in York.

I picked up two girls that I worked with at Ikea on the day I took Kimberley to the airport (that timing worked very well indeed!).  The two girls, Anna and Nicole arrived and had just enough time to say hi then dropped Kimberley off at departures the worry was that timing wouldnt work but worked like clockwork...until...!

Kimberley had taken her purse into the arrivals building to check that her bank card was active so she could pay for her train ticket on arrival in the UK.  We then sat in the cafe and had a drink at which time she gave me her purse to put in my bag.....
BIG mistake!!!!!  At the time I mentioned that it was a bad move as we would probably forget it..... never a truer word said in jest!

It wasn't until we had left Kimberley at the door to departures, used the facilities and then driven through stand still traffic almost all the way into Nairobi that I received a call on my mobile in the bag, low and behold there was Kimberleys purse........I was struck with the horror of the situation immediately and told Jenga who had been moaning about the traffic that we had to go back to the airport.

I think Jenga thought I was kidding because it took a few minutes for him to understand what I was saying and accept that we did in fact need to go back to the airport where we had just left.

Whilst seeing Kimberley off I had chatted to the security man at the door so I headed straight to him with my passport and her purse in hand.  After a bit of a shakey explanation to him I asked if as I had my passport for ID he would let me into the building to find Kimberley and hand over the purse. He said NO WAY would I be allowed to do that. When I asked if they could tannoy Kimberley to come back to the door he said by now she would have passed immigration and would not be permitted to return.

I was getting more aggitated as I knew all Kimberleys cards and work passes were in her purse........ eventually Jenga joined me to find out what the outcome was (obviously eager to get on our way to Nakuru).   The security man eventually said give me the purse and I will go and find your daughter........ (as you will know some of my experiences in Kenya have left me with an initial distrust of people)!  I clutched the purse and refused to give it to him, Jenga took me aside and said that if I wanted Kimberley to receive the purse I had to hand it over.  The security guard obviously seeing my discomfort said that as I had my phone and she had hers he would get her to call me, but I pointed out I had been calling her since I found the purse and it would not connect, he promised he would get a call to me to confirm that she had received the purse, I reluctantly agreed.

I security guard took the purse and went off to speak to his supervisor to get someone to cover his position checking flight papers at the door.  Not being able to hear the conversation but reading the body language it became apparent that the supervisor was not agreeing to the request.  The security man came back and said he had been refused permission to leave his post.  By now I was getting extremely aggitated, worrying that Kimberley would not realise she had no means of paying to get her home until she arrived in the UK.  The supervisor moved to another post and the security guard called one of his colleagues and quickly asked him to cover his post, he then disappeared.  

Jenga and I stood, (Jengas mind on the delay and mine on the repercussions of Kimberleys oblivious dilema).  During this time Anna and Nicole were sitting in Jengas taxi waiting for our return.  The wait seem so long, but then I heard over the tannoy Kimberleys name being called..... then I remembered her saying she would while away the time listening to her IPOD!!! I just prayed she would hear the announcement over the music playing in her headphones.  More time passed and then the 'stand-in' security man called me and gave me a number to call, after a failed attempt, I got through to Kimberley who was so relieved that we had discovered the purse before she had left that relief was obvious in her voice.  She checked all was present and I asked her to pass on my grateful thank to the security man, we then said our goodbyes and I found I could breath again.

I felt guilty that I struggled to put my trust in the security man but to hand over a purse full of cards etc to a stranger took some convincing, my policy of trusting in people until you are given reason not to has gone here and I hoped that he understood that it wasn't personal.

I sent him a thank you message as I now had his mobile number and he understood the reticience on my part.

By the time we went back to the taxi Nicole was in need of the ladies and Anna was snoring!  The drive to Nakuru after that was most uneventful but that was a nice thing.

Since the girls have arrived we have had big issues with the water supply, not that we havent had any, (the storage tank was full) but the fact that the stop cock on the mains supply spun freely which meant that on the days there was no mains we were unable to use the water in the tank as it freely flowed back down the mains pipe.  The water people kept promising that they would come, but in true services style it was in their own time........ bucket washing and wet wipes ruled this week but the girls managed amazingly, it was a good job we had more than our quota of rain water to flush the toilets with!!!

The weather has become very wet with a day of hot sunshine intersperced. It is quite nice as it is keeping the dust down and giving the crops a chance to grow.

My friend Joe (he had Fatso) says that she is about to have puppies any day now..... rather him than me, I remember the days with Kim and her 10 puppies only too vividly! We went to Joe's for dinner last night but Fatso was hiding out in her dug out den waiting for the delivery day.

The girls and I managed a trip to Mama Sweeties borrowing a taxi from Nick to take the girls clothes donated from Hawes Down school that they had come with in their luggage. Last time I went to see Mama Sweetie I took the boys the small clothes that were donated and too small for the SCANN boys and decided that the girls clothes would be very well received there. We had a lovely time as all but one of the children were at school so we chatted with Mama Sweetie and made a fuss of the boy who was under the weather. We had passed the local school on the way up to the house and after we arrived a group of the girls had appeared to greet us ( it was apparent that the only person to get 'white' visitors was Mama Sweetie so they knew where to head for)  The came in greeted us and sang a welcome song then left.  Later the smaller children came back at lunchtime and that was when the fun started, we had games and singing, Anna and Nicole had come with some glove puppets and bubbles which the children loved.  We then had a clothes fitting session......... fun all round.  We were shown the progress on the orphanage (still slow going but getting there), Mama Sweetie has now an additional 2 children supplied by the children officer so more children sleeping on mattresses on the floor until the building is complete.

We were joined at the house by a visitor who I think Mama Sweetie invited for my benefit, Daniel came to be introduced to me, Mama Sweetie is I think trying to 'matchmake' to help me stay in Kenya, she has decided I need a husband.  We had a good laugh and exchanged stories but not telephone numbers!!!!!!! Daniel, who seemed happy with the visit left us women to our noisey conversations.  When it was time to leave we bundled into the car, Mama Sweetie included, the tradition is to 'give you visitors a push' ie to escort them on their way.  In this case it was to take us to Daniels workshop where she had the men making her double deckers (bunk beds) for the children in antiticpation of the completion of the orphanage.  Part of Daniels business was also a small room with computers for internet, (probably about the size of 2 toilets together) he asked the girls for their memory cards so he could have some of the photos from the visit.  

What I forgot to mention was that on the way from Mama Sweeties the car got stuck in a trench which only looked like a puddle from where I was sitting (in the drivers seat). It wasnt until we drove through the 'puddle' that it became apparent that it was in fact hiding a trench from where the heavy rains had eroded away the dirt road. The car was well and truly wedged in the rut with no grip from the tyres as it was suspended on the lips of the trench.  Driving along the route we had caused a good deal of interest from the villagers and when we ground to a halt a crowd gathered, children were pleased to see us and were chattering, woman watched with babies slung on their hips and the men folk smiled and gathered to watch what would unfold into a comedy.

Anna and Nicole and Mama Sweetie got out of the car to relieve the weight and to observe me trying to spin the wheels to get free, in doing so I was only managing to spray anyone around with red mud.  The men gathered in front of the car and tried to push the car backwards out of the rut, unfortuately they didnt tell me until a bit later not to use the reverse gear and engine to help, I managed to splatter quite a few of the helpers.  After alot of grunting and conversation the men lifted the front just enough to be able to shove the car backwards so I could get the grip on the more solid ground and pull out.  Applause all round and relief that the rains had held off that morning the girls climbed back into the car, mud splatters included.... at that point many hands appeared in the windows for 'payment' of a job well done.  During the scramble we managed to make sure that the 3 men who helped remove the car got a little something for their deeds and I was told that Nicole had actually managed to get some photos to remind us of the little adventure!

Daniel was also happy to see the photos from the adventure and listened with amusement as the story unfolded, he saved those photos as well.  I am sure these will appear at some time in the local press to show that the road needs work as more 'muzungus' would visit but they get stuck in the mud!! Many a laugh will be had at our expense I am sure.

I have managed to find Anna and Nicole a small orphanage where they go to help with the children, SCANN now has few boys there in the week as they are now at school, so the orphanage was a good place for them to go. I think they enjoy their time there and are able to walk from the house........ about 30 /45 mins.

Today is Sunday and we are lazing around, safe in the knowledge that the water tank is full, mains water is restored and at mega pressure, the sun is trying to shine we have all showered with hot showers and life is good, that is if you ignore the results of having mokimo for dinner last night......... a rather windy dish!!!!!

Love to you all,
Susannah, Anna and Nicole.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A Varied and Interesting Week

This weeks varied update………

Monday, went to SCANN and collected Stephen Kuria to take him to the opticians, I had been wondering how we would get him to read the eye chart as he finds it difficult to recognise the letters…..I spoke to the optician when we arrived and he pointed to an eye chart that I had seen but not understood some trips before.  Basically the shape on the chart is a capital E, if you imagine rotating the E 90 degrees so it faces down, then another 90 degrees so it faces left then another to make it face upwards. The E’s position changes depending on which line it appears and the person is asked to point to which way the E is facing, no need to know the letters!  I was impressed.

Stephen proved to have 20/20 vision so his problem was not his eyes, something that we needed to make sure before we move forward with his schooling.  Whilst there we collected the glasses for Dickson and sent them to him via Mololine shuttle. Stephen was sent back to SCANN via piki piki which he was very pleased about as he enjoyed the ride to town with Kimberley and I.

On Wednesday, Kimberley and I headed to Hotel Merica to swim, actually we needed a shower and as we had received no water at the house for over a week we were worried we would be running out, the showers at Merica are hot and plentiful!  We did also enjoy a swim and sunbathe…….. I burned my belly button which seemed to avoid the suntan lotion that I lavished on the rest of my belly. Even with lotion I managed to burn various areas which made Kimberley laugh later that evening when we were getting ready to go to Guava Lounge to ‘work’, Kimberley on the other hand had very little signs that she had sat in the sun at all! So much for preparing for Mombasa.  Guava that night was quiet and we left by 10.45, Kimberley enjoyed her time behind the bar and even managed to do some serving!!!

On Thursday, we headed to SCANN where I finished the final touches to the bike repair report to be handed in for approval before the repairs can go ahead. It was a rather lengthy report as the bikes have been sitting in disrepair for so long.  [For those of you that haven’t been reading these emails since day 1 (so long ago!) the bikes had been donated for boys who travel a long way to school, they had been stored as no one would sort out giving out the bikes and responsibility for their upkeep. When I arrived many years later I got them sign written and given out, providing a secure place to keep them and a logging in and out system for the boys to take the bikes.]

As time has gone by the bikes have quickly fallen fowl of the bad roads here and needed repair which after my last trip home have not been looked at.  I recommended that either the bikes were either repaired or sold as they were because no one was able to use them as they were and it was a waste of space keeping them. This I think forced the hands of the management and the report will hopefully get them repaired and back in use.

Whilst at SCANN we also got some poi practice out of Davey (the smallest poi boy) he had mastered a new move last time we were there and I wanted to make sure he had been practicing, actually Kimberley had also mastered it but Davey was better!!!!
He seems to pick up things he is shown so quickly, including the computers, which he sat at after he showed us the poi moves.

Francis the acrobat from Tanzania called to say he was visiting Nakuru and could he stay with me, he appeared with a friend (Hussain).  I cooked dinner but asked Francis to cook some ugali as I knew that the boys would not consider what I had cooked as filling enough for them.  We all sat and ate a good meal and Kimberley and I left the boys sitting watching DVD’s whilst we read in bed (not sure French fight movie with subtitles would be our thing!)

I mentioned earlier the lack of water……. Yesterday which was a water day I sent ‘my man’ at the water office a message asking if we were to get water as I was getting very short as we had not received any recently.  He called and said it would be forthcoming and we should have received some on Tuesday.

When Kimberley and I returned from town that day we found that there had in fact been no water all day, it was now 5.30 and I thought there was little chance of me reaching the water man.  He answered and told me that we had had water from midday and was surprised that I had called him.  He immediately sent one of his men to check the pipes and it was found that there is a problem from the mains in the road to my property A G A I N!!!!!!  As it was later he told me that he would send some workmen to the house on Friday, (today) to dig the line!!!  I know what this involves and it is a lot of mess and the hope that I will cook them lunch!

In answer to our prayers it rained last night, actually it was raining at 4am when I woke up and then ran around in the rain positioning basins at strategic points OUTSIDE to collect the rain water, Henry by this time had retreated to his bed.  The smell of the earth with the fresh rain was amazing and I sat outside with Kim for a while just enjoying the sound and the smell of nature. I also remembered to find some buckets to collect the rain in the lounge! 

This morning (Friday) everything looks so green against the black of the soil, it is so fresh and not a bit of dust is in the air. It is still raining but not heavily, there is no sign of the workmen, I am sure they will arrive in their own time!  I was up early preparing a large pan of ugi (Kenyan porridge) not only for the acrobats but also for the workmen who will consider today to be so cold that they will need ‘a little something’ to warm them up.

I will love you and leave you now.  Kimberley and I are heading to SCANN this afternoon for more Poi practice and to decide which one of the boy’s art designs will be chosen for the picture to be painted and given to the sponsors in America. I will be busy at the sewing machine trying to get some more of the poi finished so the boys can practice with one set each instead of queuing.

I hope my email finds you all well and the weather is warming.
Best wishes
Susannah xxxxxx

Hi from Kimberley.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Happy Monday

Happy Monday, sorry I have neglected to send you an email for a while but I have been busy with Kimberley and SCANN, at the moment is taking a lot of my brain and physical presence.

I have been asked to arrange a performance for some visitors who are coming at the end of February, this isn’t too big a problem other than the boys who did poi last time I was here and were left with their poi to practice with have in fact lost the majority of them.  This means that I have to madly produce not only performance poi for the show but also practice ones and the sewing machine has been transferred to Scann for the sewing lady.  I now have to run backwards and forwards to SCANN to do the sewing in sessions. Together with trying to get the boys together for practice which is a nightmare as they are at school all week and Saturday mornings and don’t return until I have left for the day.  At weekends they are all at the moment madly taking part in football as it is the major game of the moment, actually it is so popular here that it is difficult to think of it being any more popular!

Yesterday, (Sunday 31/01/10), Kimberley and I went to SCANN in the afternoon after I put up a notice asking the boys to be present for Poi practice…… only 2 appeared after a lot of searching for them, followed by another one later.  There should have been 10!  I put the instruction DVD on in the computer room and let them coach from that as they were very rusty, I then sent them outside to practice.  Kimberley and I sorted the boy’s medical cards and did a stock take on the meds whilst they practiced.

After we had finished we went out side to watch how the boys were getting on, and it wasn’t bad at all, Pius Tomia was the strongest so I asked him to coach the smallest boy Davey who was struggling a bit but had so much enthusiasm.  Pius is a shy boys who is very self conscious so boosting his ego to get him to help the younger boys really worked to encourage his self-esteem, he actually smiled!

We left SCANN happy that we had accomplished something even if it was the medical things that needed to be completed! The boys had had a good afternoon and it was getting overcast with the threat of rain.  We headed into town on a piki piki (motorbike taxi) both of us on one, quickest way to travel but not always considered to be the safest!  We went to Guava CafĂ© for dinner as I had decided not to cook (it was Sunday after all)!  We had a lovely peppered steak and chips with soda a nice treat from spending a long time lighting the jiko and cooking!  Before we left we popped our heads into the Guava Lounge where we had been the night before it was packed as there was a major game of football about to start on the huge projector TV screen!  We decided not to stay as it would have been a crazy football mad night!

On Saturday, I went early to SCANN to do the clinic, leaving Kimberley at home to chill. It was a busy morning as not only was I sorting out the clinic, I was overseeing the sewing lady and the bicycle repair man had come to check over the old bicycles that had been left is such disrepair for a long time now!

I was split in 3 trying to keep everyone happy and sorted but I managed and was exhausted by the end of it. Mid afternoon I headed into town for shopping and to the Opticians with one of the older boys to collect his glasses (which weren’t ready!) I had decided to take Stephen Kuria with me as he is the boy who I feel is dyslexic but I wanted to check his eyes before I go any further.  The optician was absent so it was a wasted trip that requires me to go back this afternoon (joy)!

After my day running around I returned home rested, Kimberley had had a nice day reading and relaxing. We cooked dinner and headed into town to have drinks at Guava Lounge (where I occasionally work for drinks, social life and a free taxi home).  We sat and chatted with Ben who owns the place and had a couple of drinks, the bar became very busy and the staff behind the bar was getting decidedly bogged down so I stepped in, chatting to Kimberley who now sat at the bar.  As the even drew on it became manic and Kimberley stepped behind the bar and helped washing the glasses so that I could concentrate on serving. Kimberley lasted until 2.30am when I decided it was time to go home, Ben called us a taxi and we left, it was a crazy night but we enjoyed it and Ben was so drunk!  Apparently the bar stayed open until 4am, the other staff members were shattered.

The weather is not being kind to us, we haven’t had rain in about 3 weeks (although I am not counting). The crop of maize that was growing nicely and was to be shielded from the birds with my invention of the maize socks is now shrivelled and wasted by the sun, not even the birds would get anything from that.  I am still watering the tomato plants in the morning and evening and my kitchen garden containing courgette, coriander and carrots, although I don’t think they will last much longer with the heat of the sun beating down on them. As for the flowers, they looked so good but are now dry and very sad looking, but I can’t supply water for them when there is no rain as we may end up with more rationing if it continues.

Kimberley and I have a few trips planned and will let you know as they happen, we are going along nicely, not working to a timetable doing what suits us on the day.

This morning my toilet pipe decided to spring another leak and I had to compromise with wrapping plastic tightly round the pipe to keep the seal tight……. Something else to get looked at.  Wouldn’t mind but only just replaced the pipe!!!!

Ok well, will love you all and leave you know as have to get ready to head to SCANN and then the opticians!

Love and hugs.